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Chicago-based musician Whitney Johnson records lush, haunting compositions under the name Matchess. Using pre-recorded cassette tapes, organ drones, delay-heavy vocals, and occasional passages of harsh noise summoned out of her viola, Johnson crafts a textural, ethereal sound heavy on rhythm and atmosphere alike. First issuing her music via limited cassettes, she released the exceptional Somnaphoria in 2015. Sacracorpa, which appeared in 2018, boasted clearer sound, but was no less haunting. Her 2022 album, Sonescent, was more of a longform drone piece, inspired by a meditation retreat. Johnson was already active in bands such as Verma and E+ when she began working on her solo project in 2012. Early recordings were released in the form of extremely limited cassettes, with 2013's Seraphastra originally released in an edition of 50 tapes on the Digitalis label before seeing a proper release the next year on Trouble in Mind. The label released Matchess' second album, Somnaphoria, in 2015. Her third album, The Rafter, appeared on Austin label Monofonus Press in 2016. She returned to Trouble in Mind with 2018's Sacracorpa, which was recorded in an earth ship in New Mexico as well as studios in Chicago and New York, where Johnson worked in LaMonte Young and Marian Zazeela's Dream House. Drone piece Fundamental 256 Hz was released by Longform Editions in 2019, and the single "For Lise" appeared on Mexican Summer in 2020. She premiered a piece titled Huizkol that year, and Trouble in Mind released it as part of their Explorer Series in November. Vines, the first LP by Damiana, Johnson's duo with Natalie Chami (aka TALsounds), was released by Hausu Mountain in 2021. Sonescent, Matchess' first release on Drag City, appeared in 2022, consisting of two side-long drone pieces.
© Fred Thomas & Paul Simpson /TiVo
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